Wolfgang Alders

Agricultural Landscapes and Societal Transformation in Pemba, Tanzania: AD 1000-1850
Spring 2016

My research focuses on the long-term development of rice producing landscapes and related societal transformations in Zanzibar and on the East African coast over the last millennium. Rice production is known from historical sources to have intensified dramatically in Zanzibar and on the coast sometime between the 11th and 17th centuries AD, in some relation to Islamic conversion, the development of large towns, and the advent of Portuguese colonialism. I am using geoarchaeological methods, satellite remote sensing, and archaeological landscape survey to assess the spatial, social and ecological relationships involved in the creation and management of the particular hydrological and geomorphological conditions necessary for rice production, from a long-term perspective. This summer, my pre-dissertation research will involve archaeological surveys and sub-surface testing in lowland, rice-growing areas in northern Pemba and western Unguja, as well as meetings with local communities to assess the potential for developing a long-term collaborative archaeological project.